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Covering Conflict: Journalists Share Stories Of Mo. National Guard Soldiers

Military men and women who serve overseas encounter dangerous situations and often struggle with separation from family and friends.

The same is true of journalists who embed themselves with soldiers.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch chief photographer J.B. Forbes, who has worked at the newspaper since 1975, and reporter Jesse Bogan recently returned from Afghanistan.  They were embedded with about 100 members of the Missouri National Guard’s 1138th Engineer Company, covering and sharing the stories of soldiers who have temporarily left their civilian jobs.  

The 1138th, which performs their mission in southern Afghanistan departed in July 2012 and are scheduled to return this May.

Part of the Company’s mission is to find and dismantle buried roadside bombs along supply and infantry routes.

“As they drive over certain roads, (some soldiers) say, ‘please don’t blow up, please don’t blow up, please don’t blow up,” Forbes told host Don Marsh.

“They’re going out there and creeping along these roads at two miles per hour…It can be tedious and boring…It takes patience,” Bogan said.

Marsh talked with Forbes and Bogan about their most recent special coverage of Afghanistanand work covering other conflicts and disasters.


While President Barack Obama has announced that the United States plans to withdraw most troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, thousands remain.

Journalistic Commitment

Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon points out the sacrifice and commitment of soldiers doesn’t “garner headlines unless tragedy strikes… It is important to remind readers about their risks and contributions that make a distant war closer to home and more human.”

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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